House Republicans are preparing to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for her past comments critical of Israel, an escalation of tensions after Democrats last session booted far-right GOP lawmakers from committees over their incendiary, violent remarks.
Thursday’s vote is a quick turnaround by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to solidify wavering Republican support for moving against the Somali-born Muslim woman in the new Congress. Some GOP lawmakers had expressed reservations about taking such a dramatic step. Removal of lawmakers from their House committees was essentially unprecedented until the Democratic ousters of hard-right Republicans Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona.
Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, has apologized for comments that she has said she came to understand were antisemitic.
“We’ll have enough votes,” McCarthy said late Wednesday.
The resolution proposed by Rep. Max Miller, R-Ohio, a former official in the Trump administration, says, “Omar’s comments have brought dishonor to the House of Representatives.”
The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, argued for excluding Omar on the panel during a recent closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans.
“It’s just that her worldview of Israel is so diametrically opposed to the committee’s,” McCaul told reporters in describing his stance. “I don’t mind having differences of opinion, but this goes beyond that.”
Omar has said that, in reality, “it is about revenge. It’s about appeasing the former president,” referring to Donald Trump.
McCarthy has already blocked Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both California Democrats, from rejoining the House Intelligence Committee once the GOP took control of the chamber in January. While appointments to the intelligence panel are the prerogative of the speaker, the action on Omar requires a House vote.
Democrats have little recourse at this point. “We are united that she should be seated on the committee,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the ranking Democrat on the committee.
Several Republicans skeptical of removing Omar wanted “due process” for lawmakers who face removal. McCarthy said he told them he would work with Democrats on creating a due process system, but acknowledged it’s still a work in progress and he’s not exactly sure what shape it will take.
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